Crown copyright FAQs

Q. How will I know if material is Crown copyright?

A. Most published material will feature a Crown copyright statement © Crown copyright. If you are in doubt, it is advisable to check with us.

Copyright which has been assigned to the Crown will normally feature one of the copyright lines: © Keeper of The National Archives and King’s Printer or © King’s Printer for Scotland.

Q. How long does Crown copyright last?

A. This depends on whether the work has been published.

Crown copyright work which has been published will have copyright protection for 50 years from the end of the year in which the work was published.

Unpublished works have a period of protection of 125 years from the end of the year in which the work was made or until 31 December 2039 (which is 50 years from the year in which the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 came into force).

Copyright in a work which has been assigned to the Crown lasts 70 years after the death of the person who created it.

View our copyright duration flowcharts at Duration of Copyright.

Q. Do government departments have any responsibility for licensing Crown copyright?

A. All departments have delegated authority from the Keeper of Public Records to authorise private sector organisations to publish official versions of material on their behalf. Departments also have authority to authorise the re-use of their departmental logos, and documents the supply of which falls outside of their public task.

Most government trading funds have delegated authority to license the re-use of material that they originate. Some Arm’s Length Bodies which run photographic/film archives also operate under delegated authority as there is such a close link between the licensing and supply of images.

Other Delegations of Authority are granted to government departments only on an exceptional basis, at the discretion of the Keeper of Public Records. Generally, Crown copyright material should be made available for re-use under the Open Government Licence.

Q. Are databases automatically covered by Crown copyright?

A. No, databases enjoy separate protection under the Database Regulations. Generally, the database right is held by the person or organisation that has made the arrangements for the database to be created.

Q. What authority does the Keeper of The National Archives have to manage Crown copyright and Crown databases?

A. The Keeper of The National Archives has been granted Letters Patent that authorise him to manage copyrights and databases owned by the Crown.